Talks should be held for just and lasting peace, not surrender

This article is available in Pilipino

There is no room in the peace talks for discussing, or insinuations, let alone demands, for the surrender of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) or of the armed revolutionary struggle in the Philippines. This is the statement of Comrade Luis G. Jalandoni, NDFP Negotiating Panel Senior Adviser, in response to a series of statements from officials of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) calling the peace talks as discussions for “surrender.”

The Oslo Joint Statement was signed on November 23 in Norway declaring the intention of the GRP and the NDFP to reopen peace talks.

Comrade Juliet de Lima, interim chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, particularly criticized Department of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. for claiming that the NDFP surrender is the GRP’s basis for agreeing to reopen negotiations. She reminded Teodoro that it was the GRP which approached the NDFP and not the other way around.

According to Ka Luis and Ka Julie, “peace talks are not negotiations for capitulation.” They emphasize that the negotiation is a unique opportunity to seek a mutually acceptable and principled approach to fully address the real causes of the armed conflict.

They said the GRP should just focus on the significant agenda of the negotiations stipulated in the Hague Joint Declaration. This means discussing the draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) which explains the socio-economic roots of the civil war.

Support for NDFP

Behind the NDFP negotiating panel are its allied organizations in asserting the basic and urgent demands of the people for land reform and national industrialization and other initiatives for social justice and national sovereignty. They represent the national and democratic interests of their respective sectors.

In connection with the signed Oslo Joint Statement, statements of support were released by the national leadership of the Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka), Liga ng Agham para sa Bayan (LAB), Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan (Kaguma), Lupon ng Manananggol para sa Bayan (Lumaban), Christians for National Liberation (CNL), as well as the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Regional and provincial branches of the NDFP nationwide also warmly welcomed the joint statement. Revolutionary organizations are now studying and reviewing the writings and statements of Comrade Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP and the Party related to the peace talks in order to unite and gather the support of the wider Filipino masses.

What should be discussed?

The widespread landlessness of peasant masses in the countryside should be discussed. Because people’s war is a peasant war, genuine land reform is a key response. The Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid (PKM) unites peasants to advance this struggle.

Peasants gained nothing from the reactionary state’s bogus land reform. PKM identified the case of land concentration like the 7,100 hectares of land tightly gripped by the Yulo Family, the largest hacienda in Laguna, covering Calamba, Cabuyao, Sta. Rosa, and Biñan.

According to PKM-Laguna, the eviction of farmers is rampant in Yulo land which is sold to big bourgeois compradors like the Ayalas. Irrigated lands are converted to golf courses, subdivisions, industrial parks, and other commercial uses, which do not benefit the peasant masses. “How can we plant on paved roads and asphalts on which huge buildings stand? We will be driven to starvation if this continues,” according to PKM-Laguna.

The struggle for national industrialization should be discussed. Establishing this will support economic development. This is necessary to create jobs, raise incomes and meet the basic needs of the people.

Widespread poverty, unemployment and low wages of the toiling masses must be discussed. According to the state’s own statistics, up to 2.3 million jobs were lost in September. An additional 358,000 lost jobs were dropped from the labor force during the same period. The number of informal economy workers also increase.

The real value of workers’ wages is constantly being eroded. In NCR, the real value of the ₱610 minimum earned is only ₱504. This is even less than half of the ₱1,189 daily living wage level. On average, workers nationwide receive only 35.5% of the living wage.

The Marcos regime’s blatant subservience to its imperialist US master should be discussed. It allows the US to drag the Philippines into the outbreak of an inter-imperialist war against China, and the use of the entire country as its base under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and other military treaties.

The defense of the Philippine national sovereignty against the interference and attacks of imperialist China in the West Philippine Sea should also be discussed.

Justice for the thousands of victims of human rights violations must be discussed. From December 1, 2022 to December 1 this year, Ang Bayan recorded 957 cases of human rights violations and 127,386 victims of the US-Marcos regime. Its armed forces brazenly devastated rural communities, using a campaign of aerial bombing, artillery shelling and straffing.

These, and other socio-economic issues, are what the US-Marcos regime is trying to avoid and wants to cover up in the possible reopening of negotiations.

Talks should be held for just and lasting peace, not surrender